Take Your Game Up, Up And Away With The Super Powers Companion For Savage Worlds Adventure Edition

Open up Savage Worlds Adventure Edition to high powered superhero action.

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Games like Savage Worlds Adventure Edition are toolkits for enterprising Game Masters to use in building their own worlds. But even the best carpenter can use help from time to time with solid instructions and advice. That’s where the genre companion books for Savage Worlds come in. They’ve got three genre books for the game with a fourth, Science Fiction, recently crowdfunded. Pinnacle Entertainment Group sent along a review copy of the Super Powers Companion for this review. Does this book make me want to wear the mask? Let’s play to find out.

Super Powers Companion is designed by two powerhouses in the Savage Worlds world: game creator Shane Hensley and Clint Black.The designers split superheroes into five road power levels with the first level being early pulp heroes that have a minor power or two and level five being the big galactic beings who fight to save the universe on a regular basis. The level acts as a guide to how many points the character has to spend on their powers and the maximum amount they can spend on a single power. This reflects the overall design philosophy of the game; characters only become slightly more powerful as they gain abilities but they become much more versatile.

Powers tend to be one cost modified by bonuses or penalties offered during construction. I’m much more used to powers that cost a certain amount per level. I kept on getting confused until I realized that the power construction rules were essentially an extension of the ancestry rules from the game. For players who want to try out abilities before picking them up, the rules use a Bennie powered stunt system to allow for those classic scenes where the hero pushes their abilities in new and challenging directions. I prefer this style of design in my supers games because it gives players structure for what they can do with their powers but also allows in the moment flexibility for unexpected creative solutions.

Super Powers Companion aims for a general feel of superhero teams like The Avengers or X-Men.Rules such as power synergy and team-up attacks. My favorite rules are for building bases, which feel right for stories like this. Bases start out with one Advantage and one Complication. They can earn advances just like the players but when they do, they run the risk of generating an encounter for the next session. These can be anything from the city throws the heroes a parade to a local resident files a legal challenge to the new building because they are sick of supervillain attacks in the middle of the night.

The book also discusses different types of superhero stories with suggestions on the proper hero level as well as the setting rules that will help the system adjust to feel like that style. I’m glad that the book recognizes the different types of superhero stories that exist in the modern era. What I would like to see is a worksheet where Game Masters can spell out each of the rules for the setting. There’s a brief list in the book for each style but I think full write-ups would be more useful to show Game Masters how to adjust their super world to feel just right.

The most useful feature of most of these companion books are the monster sections and this book is no different. In this case, the over 70 character write ups also serve as a great way to illustrate how to build various characters in these rules. While I wish the archetypes with the most generic hero types would not have been made a separate product, there’s still plenty of examples on how to build a character like your favorite hero throughout these write ups. In my experience, people making superhero RPG characters most often take their favorite hero, change one or two elements about them and hit the table. These writeups are also useful to just drop into a setting with or without connecting them back the “The Doom Guard” supers world that Pinnacle is slowly building up around these rules. Each write up fits on one page and many of them come with adventure hooks ready to go. Even the high power characters have room for these ideas which impressed me.

Super Powers Companion opens up Savage Worlds Adventure Edition to high powered action, whether fighting street gangs in alleyways or facing star-eating cosmic gods.If you can keep track of your character options, it’s a great way to save the day.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

dbm

Savage!
Supporter
I ran a short campaign of about 6 sessions using the new SPC and it was great. The characters were tier 3, which is ‘city level’ of power. One of the interesting things is that, since the power system runs on a different set of points to other aspects of character creation, character powers remain relatively stable but your character can become more skilled at using their powers and more capable in other ways.

Our three PCs were:
  • A lizard man who was strong, tough, could leap and had regeneration abilities
  • A being of energy with blasting powers, a personal defence battery of laser beams that could shoot projectiles out of the air, and strengthened powers of charisma
  • A pacifist wizard who could divert incoming damage into magical energy to fuel his powers.
It all worked really smoothly, and with all the great sub-system of core Savage Worlds you could run really interesting challenges for the party. It instantly became my favourite system for running supers.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I love Savage Worlds and SWADE in particular. it is my go to for most short campaign ideas I have. EXCEPT, I just don't think it works great for supers. I don't feel like the core system scales well for even "standard" X-Men or Titans level heroes. I use M&M3E if I want a supers game without all the complexity of M&M2E or Champions.

That said, the SPC is still very much worth having. I have used the powers in other genres to represent powerful entities of various sorts. If used as a spice, it can elevate other SWADE games.
 

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